It is the fourth leg of the European’s Tour’s UK swing this week as the action heads to Wales for the Celtic Classic and the 132-man field will be vying for glory at the famous Celtic Manor, venue of the 2010 Ryder Cup.
It is a decade since Europe edged out the USA in the Ryder Cup at the course, with Graeme McDowell proving to be the hero in Newport on that thrilling Sunday, but The Twenty Ten course will make a welcome return for the one-off Celtic Classic.
Measuring a robust 7,493 yards off the back tees, this week’s track is a par 71, has water hazards on half of its holes, and provides the field will several risk-and-reward dilemmas throughout the round.
Despite some of the more well-known names not taking part, it still promises to be another exciting week in Wales and there looks to be a real interest in backing Thomas Pieters, who makes his first appearance since lockdown.
Belgian to Claim Welsh Spoils
Pieters has maybe not kicked on like many thought he would after his impressive performance at the 2016 Ryder Cup, but he still boasts undoubted talent and his win at the Czech Masters in August last year really helped his confidence.
One thing the Belgian has is huge power off the tee as he averages 325.50 yards on the European Tour this season, leaving him 10th in that department, while he is seventh in strokes gained: off-the-tee.
The 28-year-old is also first in strokes gained: approach-the-green and strokes gained: tee-to-green, while his iron play has also been impressive as he sits second in greens in regulation with a 74.75 percentage.
Sitting first in birdies per round and seventh in scoring average (69.77), the only thing that has been lacking is Pieters’ putting, but if he can get the flat stick rolling well then he should be in with a shout of winning at
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Of the bigger prices in the betting, Min Woo Lee will tempt a few at
50/1, especially given the fact he broke his European Tour duck at the ISPS Handa Vic Open in February.
Lockdown came at the wrong time for the Australian and the rustiness was evident to see in his first two tournaments back, with missed cuts at both the British Masters and Hero Open.
However, the 22-year-old bounced back to form with a tied-sixth finish at last week’s Hero Open and it is worth noting that he started that event with a brilliant seven-under-par 64, which is of interest when looking at who will be the first round leader.
Lee is another player that boasts huge power as he ranks second in driving distance this season, averaging 334.27 yards, while he is 13th in strokes gained: off-the-tee, 18th in strokes gained: tee-to-green and first in greens under regulation.
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There will be huge British interest at the Celtic Classic and one name that sticks out, at a massive price of
80/1, is Scotland’s Connor Syme, who is searching for his maiden European Tour win since turning professional in 2017.
The 25-year-old was tied-19th last time out at the English Championship, a morale-boosting performance for him, and there is every chance he can take that momentum into the Welsh event.
Syme can give it a good hit off the tee, averaging 317.74 yards, while he is also deadly accurate with the big stick as he sits third in driving accuracy – an area that could be crucial to success this week.
The Scot is fourth in strokes gained: off-the-tee, fifth in greens in regulation and 16th in strokes gained: total, with all of these statistics standing him in good stead ahead of Thursday’s opening round.